Deep dive into Dynamics 365 Marketing with Malin Martnes

Deep dive into Dynamics 365 Marketing with Malin Martnes

#138. My guest today is Malin Martnes, a Microsoft MVP and MCT who runs her own company MaCoTra AS in Oslo, Norway. As you’ll hear, Malin doesn’t have any technical background on Dynamics 365 and Power Platform but she focuses on using these systems.

In this episode, Malin talks about how she came to be a CRM consultant and set up her own consulting business. 

 With years of experience as a user and trainer of Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, she also discusses the integration of the HR solution with Finance & Operations, tips for deploying Dynamics 365 Marketing, and the events and training sessions she helped organize.

 Show Highlights

  •  [01:25] Malin’s background and how she got started as a CRM consultant
  • [04:56] The story behind MaCoTra’s unusual name
  • [10:06] Malin talks about the recently concluded Cloud Technology Townhall Tallinn 2023 event
  • [15:16] Malin talks about the Norwegian Marketing Day she co-organized with fellow Microsoft MVP Guro Faller
  • [18:31] Malin discusses the integration of Dynamics 365 Human Resources with Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations
  • [22:53] Who Dynamics 365 Marketing and ClickDimensions cater to
  • [26:02] Malin discusses the projects she’s done with Dynamics 365 Marketing
  • [29:25] How Dynamics 365 Marketing handles deliverability
  • [35:35] Malin shares tips to be aware of when deploying Dynamics 365 Marketing
  • [44:08] What’s next for Malin?


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[00:00:00] Malin Martnes: I think it is easier to come from marketing and learn the technical aspects than it is to come from technical and learn the marketing aspects.

[00:00:13] Neil Benson: Well, I'm back on the Amazing Applications Podcast and today, we have Malin Martnes. Welcome, Malin. It's great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for joining us. 

[00:00:20] Malin Martnes: Thank you. So glad to be here in the future or from the past or something.

[00:00:26] Neil Benson: Yeah, so we're recording this in the morning in Australia and it's late in the evening in Norway. You're in based in Oslo, is that right? 

[00:00:34] Malin Martnes: Yes, just outside of Oslo. My house and garden and everything so.

[00:00:39] Neil Benson: Good. What's the weather like at the moment? It must be getting into spring. 

[00:00:43] Malin Martnes: I wish.

[00:00:45] Neil Benson: I guess it's still middle of February, so it's probably the yeah last month of winter, right? 

[00:00:49] Malin Martnes: Yeah, still a bit of snow and a lot of ice. Right now it's so icy. So, my walking my kid to school, there's a small like walk through the forest and now it's pure ice so he takes like something and lets down everything and just says "Bye, Mom!"

[00:01:11] Neil Benson: My kids have never seen the snow. They would love to have an icy walk to school. That would be a novelty but we're baking here. It's been a bit of a heat wave, so we've had 35 degrees and a hundred percent humidity.

[00:01:23] Malin Martnes: Other side of the world quite literally.

[00:01:25] Neil Benson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I wonder just for the benefit of our audience who might not know you, do you wanna give us a quick introduction and let us know who you are, what you get up to, and most importantly, what's your favorite Lego set?

[00:01:36] Malin Martnes: Yes. So, Malin Martnes and I'm now straight into thinking about Lego so thank you. Hardly remember my name. Malin Martnes. We talked about I come from Norway. I've been an MVP now since 2019, 1st of July 2019, and that's all of a sudden not last year. 

[00:01:57] Neil Benson: That's right.

[00:01:58] Malin Martnes: It's just crazy.

[00:02:00] Neil Benson: You're a veteran. 

[00:02:00] Malin Martnes: Yes, so even more crazy. Still fresh and new and think I just stumbled upon this. I've worked in consultancy world for about nearing 10 years now and nine years and I come from the customer side so I have absolutely no technical background whatsoever. I did my degree in marketing and that's my favorite field to work in as well. But I was never intended for technical stuff and I just fell into it and, of course, I'm very much of a like I'm just, why not? It's just try it. If it doesn't work, then I'll figure something else out and it's worked out pretty well.

[00:02:45] Neil Benson: Yeah. Well, that's good to say. After a pretty great consulting career, you've now set up your own consulting business last year. Tell us about that move. 

[00:02:52] Malin Martnes: Yes, that was it's stressful and weird and scary, very scary at the same time and all these feelings and but I struggle a lot with migraines and I know that they're induced from stress so that's kind of my thing. And I was doing too much for my old employer and I was trying to do work and train people and hire new people and do sales work and all of that and they're a really, really good employer like I still recommend them highly. But I realized that I just wanna do everything and I want to be everywhere at the same time. And I thought about before I moved last time that maybe I should try working by myself but I too scary. But now, I had a customer ready so I reached out to them and it's been crazy.

[00:03:54] Neil Benson: Yeah. Well, it sounds like you're still doing all the things.

[00:03:57] Malin Martnes: I am. But now, I don't feel bad if I have a day where I don't have any work or if I start late one day or just say this week I'm gonna be in Scotland and work remote, that's okay. 

[00:04:14] Neil Benson: Have you found yourself being able to say no to an opportunity to a client request and just managed your time? Come on. That's supposed to be the beauty of self-employment.

[00:04:26] Malin Martnes: I know but my issue has been that if I've had some work that I don't really wanna do, I just give them like a high price.

[00:04:35] Neil Benson: They keep saying yes. 

[00:04:37] Malin Martnes: Yes. That's the crazy part. So, yeah. That's very good. I now have a couple of days and some time that I could manage better but, yeah. Not a lot of availability until October.

[00:04:56] Neil Benson: Oh. And tell us about the name of your business 'cause it's got an unusual name and spelling. Tell me the story behind that. 

[00:05:04] Malin Martnes: Yeah, that is thanks to my sister, my older sister. So, she's creative. I'm the middle child. I have one five-year older sister and one five-year younger sister. 

[00:05:16] Neil Benson: Okay. 

[00:05:16] Malin Martnes: They are creative like. And drawing, painting, they're absolutely insane. Both of them. Super talented. And I can't draw a stickman. I am awful at all of that. So, we were talking like new company name, what's it gonna be? And there were so many horrible ideas, so, so bad. I should frame them all 'cause there were like, oh, cringe city. And then, my sister said, oh, what about "MaCoTra?" Like, well, what? So, it can be Malin, it can be Martnes — my names — consulting and training.

[00:06:04] Neil Benson: Ah, okay.

[00:06:06] Malin Martnes: Yeah. So, I have the "Ma" which is the first M is capital and the C is capital and T is capital. So, Martnes Consulting and Training or Malin Consulting and Training or Marketing Consulting and Training or. It's got a lot of uses.

[00:06:28] Neil Benson: You're doing some consulting work mostly around Dynamics 365 Marketing and some training work as well and you've had some lots of spare time to write a book as well. Show us the book. You must have a copy in the — there we go: Becoming a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing Functional Consultant. You can make study notes in the margin of one and then you can keep the other one clean. 

[00:06:49] Malin Martnes: Yes. 

[00:06:50] Neil Benson: Congratulations.

[00:06:52] Malin Martnes: Thank you. Thank you. A lot of work.

[00:06:55] Neil Benson: Yeah. I wrote one for Packt Publishing in 2011 and it is a lot of work and they have some great editors who pick apart everything you've ever written. So, tell us who should be buying the book? What's what do you cover in there and where can we get one? 

[00:07:12] Malin Martnes: It is the only book on Dynamics marketing so far.

[00:07:16] Neil Benson: Wow, good. You've cornered the market. 

[00:07:19] Malin Martnes: Yep. So, if you want a book, that's it basically, which is good. But it's got everything you need to know about marketing and it's good if you want to start with marketing, if you want to learn the app and have no knowledge. If you worked years in Dynamics or anywhere in between, you will always learn something new because it is such a big system and it's, well, it's always changing so, yeah. 

[00:07:50] Neil Benson: Yeah. And so, for customers who maybe have a campaign manager or a marketing administrator, they can pick it up and use it as well. It's not just aimed at Microsoft Partners. 

[00:07:59] Malin Martnes: No, it's as I said, I come from the customer side so I don't have any technical background. I have a marketing degree. That's my background. I haven't written the book. I have read the book in so I use the dictating functionality in Word.

[00:08:16] Neil Benson: Really? 

[00:08:17] Malin Martnes: Yes. 

[00:08:17] Neil Benson: To write the whole book?

[00:08:18] Malin Martnes: Yeah. 

[00:08:19] Neil Benson: So is there an audiobook available as well?

[00:08:21] Malin Martnes: No.

[00:08:23] Neil Benson: But you've recorded all the audio. I guess it's much harder to edit an audiobook that way. 

[00:08:29] Malin Martnes: Yeah. And all the shouting at my dog and all the breaks where I zone out and be like "I have no idea what I'm talking about. What did I write now?"

[00:08:41] Neil Benson: Good for you. So, that's — is there a Kindle version available and then we can buy the book in bookstores?

[00:08:47] Malin Martnes: Yes. You can buy it either on Packt's pages or on Amazon, so you can get it in the hard copy or on Kindle version so they're both available. 

[00:08:58] Neil Benson: Great. I'll make sure there's links to the book in the show notes. Congratulations again. When was the book published and how are sales going? Have you any idea so far?

[00:09:06] Malin Martnes: Right before Christmas, so probably not the ideal time to be filling a workbook.

[00:09:14] Neil Benson: I should have bought one for my family for as Christmas presents. What was I thinking? 

[00:09:18] Malin Martnes: I said a joke that all of my family members would get a copy of the book for Christmas, but of course the post is slow and I didn't get my book until like after everyone else so I was probably — them to get it. But I know there has been sold some copies and my former employee that before I went over to the consultant side, I got a Snapchat from her and she was filming the room and then zoomed in on my book so I know they have it as well. 

[00:09:47] Neil Benson: Cool. That's great. Well, congratulations again. You've also — I can't believe you became self-employed to manage your workload and then you published a book and you've done all these events recently as well. So, you've had Nordic Summit two years now. You're planning a third one.

[00:10:03] Malin Martnes: No, second one. So, we just had it once. 

[00:10:06] Neil Benson: You've only had it once, okay. So, there's a second one coming and you've just been to Tallinn. You've got your marketing day that you did with Guro as well. You're all over the place, Malin. You are everywhere. So, tell us about some of these events. Let's talk about Tallinn first because that event just happened a few days ago, right? It's it was in Estonia. Yeah, I'd love to hear more about that.

[00:10:26] Malin Martnes: Yeah, it was such a good event. It is super well organized. Vivian Voss is one of the main organizer. She's done an amazing job and it was like everything ran smooth and there were no hitches and the venue was absolutely amazing.

[00:10:46] Neil Benson: I've looked at some of the photographs. Is it tell me about the venue. It looks like a cavern or a cathedral. I'm not quite sure.

[00:10:52] Malin Martnes: It was an old factory so you had like the brick walls and then you have had some equipment hanging in the roof still and it was just amazing. And the acoustics wasn't really bad either so I was expecting like a whole room and big high ceilings of like 10 meters and but it was really good. And it was a warm venue so you didn't freeze, which is always important 'cause Tallinn is cold.

[00:11:22] Neil Benson: Yeah, Eastern Europe in the middle of February, wow.

[00:11:25] Malin Martnes: Yeah, cold wind. But it was such a good event so I really, really enjoyed it so hopefully, next year as well.

[00:11:33] Neil Benson: Yeah. I was gonna ask you if it sounds like it might be a repeat event. That's the thing. You can't just put on an event once. People always hear about it and they want to go next year and. 

[00:11:41] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And especially when it's this good executed as well. It's just, yeah. It was just a joy to be part of so.

[00:11:49] Neil Benson: And did you learn anything about attending that event and being a presenter there that you're gonna take away to Nordic Summit? 'Cause you're on the organizing committee for Nordic Summit, is that right? 

[00:11:57] Malin Martnes: Yes, I am. Yeah. Again, it was the workload and not, yeah. I just realized what how much I've involved in absolutely everything when I write my MVP contributions or when I'm like talking with people. "So, what do you do really like?" Yeah, I'm on the organizing committee of that as well. But we're a great group. So, we're from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and we're one big happy family. And we have some main organizers and then we have some groupings of sponsors and speakers. And if you wanna sponsor a Nordic Summit, there is a free spot for you.

[00:12:41] Neil Benson: I noticed. Yeah, you're open for sponsorships so that's just been announced, yeah.

[00:12:45] Malin Martnes: Yep. So, we're good there. And call for speakers open 1st of March. So, we'll be open until April. So, I will expect to see a session from you.

[00:12:58] Neil Benson: My wife's parents are Danish. We'd love an excuse to travel and visit Copenhagen, so you never know. I'm still trying to find out whether or not we're going to go to Vegas for the Power Platform conference in October. I don't think I can travel that much this year. The prices of international travel are crazy.

[00:13:16] Malin Martnes: Yeah, I've submitted for the Las Vegas one as well, so we'll see hopefully. It looks to be a good one. I know last year it was the same week as Nordic Summit.

[00:13:26] Neil Benson: Right. At least it's different weeks this time.

[00:13:29] Malin Martnes: Yeah, luckily. It makes it a bit easier but, yeah. It looked like a good event and I've never been to the US.

[00:13:37] Neil Benson: Really? Okay. 

[00:13:38] Malin Martnes: Yeah, I've been to South America.

[00:13:40] Neil Benson: Right. And you might get to go again for MVP Summit in a couple of months.

[00:13:45] Malin Martnes: Not gonna go for that. Again, as you say, the price of international travel, it's crazy. And the hotels as well. And it's just too short of a notice for me to — I have no idea the currency but 40,000 Norwegian kroners for three days? That's, yeah. It's a bit pricey. So, unfortunately.

[00:14:11] Neil Benson: I had just made the payment — so I've been saving up in my business for a new website and I just got together all the money I'd need to invest and I just paid the copywriter, the photographer, and the website design agency, so all these big expenses went out. And then, Microsoft said, "Hey, we're thinking of putting on a summit. Would you like to come, maybe?" It's like, oh. It's just I've got no money.

[00:14:30] Malin Martnes: Hopefully next year, we will have some further notice and we can kinda meet up 'cause that would be good. I mean, we met in Scottish Summit, didn't we, in 2020?

[00:14:43] Neil Benson: Yes. 2020. That was my last international trip. And then, the world closed on. That was right at the end of February 28.

[00:14:51] Malin Martnes: Yeah, 29th of February. And then I came home and then me, my well now ex-husband, my kid and my dog got sick. Nobody was testing for anything and.

[00:15:03] Neil Benson: Well, scary times. You know, we look back on it now and it was the world was a different place. It was crazy. 

[00:15:09] Malin Martnes: Yeah. 

[00:15:10] Neil Benson: Well, now that we're able to come back to events, you've put on recently is it called Marketing Day that was the one in Oslo recently? 

[00:15:16] Malin Martnes: Yes, that was the 9th of January. So, yes. Guro Faller and I, we both love marketing and we both do a lot of marketing and we're both pretty much involved in all the things happening everywhere. She's just a really, really good person and a good friend. So, we like to arrange stuff together and we thought, why not do a Marketing Day? We've talked to some big customers and they have been like, yes! That would be great. Someone needs to do that and "someone" always turns out to be us. So, we started planning it end of November and got the place available start of December. So, we were like, okay, so let's just post this and see what happens and see if anyone wants to join us at all because it's in Oslo. We're like 750,000 people here. We're not that big a country. It's a very like marketing is a small niche area and we actually had 66 people show up for the event. 

[00:16:29] Neil Benson: Wow. The training was delivered in Norwegian as well?

[00:16:31] Malin Martnes: Yes. Yeah. 

[00:16:32] Neil Benson: So, okay. 

[00:16:33] Malin Martnes: Yeah. So, we did half a day and Guro and I first had an introduction. "Thank you for coming." And just a big mentee. Who are you? Like are you consultants? Are you customers? What do you want? And it was about 50/50 so that was very good, a good mix of people. And then, we had one customer doing a presentation. So, they're a big customer in Norway and has done a lot on marketing. So, they had a presentation an hour. And then, we had someone from Microsoft deliver a presentation, just more of a what is it and what more can you do and all of that. So, it was a very, very good day. We're working on setting up a new day sometime in probably hopefully April or something just because everyone was like, okay, this is brilliant. We need another day. When's the next day? How? Yeah, so.

[00:17:25] Neil Benson: I had the pleasure a couple of years ago, probably 2019, 2018, I had the pleasure of hosting Neil Parkhurst, another MVP. He did a road show through Australia, so he put on I think three different classes in three different cities, talking about Dynamics 365, customer service, in particular Unified Service Desk. And he got a great trip. Him and his wife came over and they had a great trip across Australia. So, if you ever fancy coming down under, we'll give you an all-expenses-paid trip. All you have to do is deliver a few workshops along the way and let me know when you can make it. 

[00:17:57] Malin Martnes: Yes, that would be awesome. Now, I know where Neil's koala picture —

[00:18:02] Neil Benson: That's right.

[00:18:03] Malin Martnes: Yes. 

[00:18:05] Neil Benson: So, he took that photo in Australia Zoo. So, it's just it's about an hour up the road from where I live in Brisbane. And yeah, you can get your photograph taken with koalas there. 

[00:18:14] Malin Martnes: Awesome. I need that so I'll be there. 'Cause I both do marketing and I do HR so I have trainings that I deliver. I have one-day courses in both marketing and HR and I have three-day boot camps with HR as well. 

[00:18:31] Neil Benson: Let's talk about the HR product a little bit 'cause it's it has changed a lot and I haven't kept up with it because it started out as a — that's why you have to deliver three days of training on it. It started out as a kind of standalone Dynamics 365. But now, it's part of the what you call the Unified Operations platform, right? It's kind of got merged into finance and operations. Tell us about that migration and what that means for customers and consultants today.

[00:18:58] Malin Martnes: Yeah, it's been a pain.

[00:19:00] Neil Benson: It's a big architectural change so that's never easy. 

[00:19:03] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah. Like my friend Iain Connolly, Scottish MVP, he says it's a pain in the hoop. Love that phrase. And it has been really, really because it's been okay, so now we're taking all of it out and we're moving parts of it into Dataverse and now we're deprecating two-thirds of the system and changing names. No, why? No, no. Please. And then a year and a half goes, and then they say now we're moving everything back. No. So, now they're moving everything back into the magical sphere of finance and operations and everything is based there. There are some good things and there are some bad things. Bad things for me is I don't know F&O. 

[00:19:56] Neil Benson: Right. I was gonna say it's a whole different world when it comes to the finance and operations platform and how it's customized and extended and.

[00:20:03] Malin Martnes: I have no idea how it's extended and the tables, I mean, you have four different tables, just four account addresses. 

[00:20:14] Neil Benson: Right. 

[00:20:15] Malin Martnes: Yeah. Why? Why? And then, you have for the customer or for the people addresses as well and then for the employee addresses and, I mean, you probably have like a dozen tables for addresses.

[00:20:35] Neil Benson: I'm sure there's a method to the madness somewhere up, yeah, or just not.

[00:20:39] Malin Martnes: I have not found it yet. Yeah. So, very interesting. But of course now that it's back on the F&O side, it makes life easier for the customers who have finance or who have e-commerce or who have any of that because the workers are there, the positions are there, all the jobs are there. So, a lot of things are already there and they know this and the finance consultants can do the workflows and it makes a lot of sense.

[00:21:13] Neil Benson: And if you were gonna integrate your payroll service with an internal application, you'd think of integrating it with your finance application first so. 

[00:21:20] Malin Martnes: Yeah, that's what you do. And when you then just have everything in one place, it just makes sense. I think personally I've never asked Microsoft this just because I don't want to get it confirmed or debunked but I think that this was Microsoft try of seeing if they could get finance operations over to Dataverse. Because I know that — I was hoping that they were trying to move everything over. And I know that they've had times where they, oh, this one table, this one feature, this doesn't seem connected to anything, doesn't make sense that it should be connected to anything, let's try and put that in Dataverse. Oh, nope. Nothing works. Oops.

[00:22:11] Neil Benson: Interesting theory. Yeah, I think of, you know, finance and operations, particularly if you're going e-commerce or retail, you know, the transactional throughput that you have to support could be millions of transactions an hour. You know, a retailer might do thousands of baskets in an hour and you want each individual line item for each basket all recorded. That's not really what I think of as a very common workload on Dataverse. It's much richer but it's much typically the our throughput is much slower. So, it'll be an interesting future if they do try and port it over or increase the through the capacity of Dataverse to handle some of those extremely high volume finance workloads.

[00:22:51] Malin Martnes: Yeah, definitely. 

[00:22:53] Neil Benson: Yeah. Okay. Coming back then to marketing, I know that you've had some experience with ClickDimensions and now with Dynamics 365 Marketing. A common question I get and this is not a lot of my customers are small businesses but people in our community who run small businesses, they look at Dynamics 365 Marketing and it's not a small business marketing product. It's the US list price is about $1,500 a month. I've got customers on MailChimp and MailerLite and ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign and they're paying a hundred dollars a month for some basic email marketing capability. They've got a few thousand email addresses, not tens of thousands. Is it fair to say that Dynamics Marketing and even ClickDimensions plays more in the bigger side of SMB in the mid market?

[00:23:42] Malin Martnes: I have a lot of small — all of Norway is small to medium businesses. That's what we do. I don't think hardly any of the Norwegian companies are enterprise, like the big, big enterprise from the US. We're not even close to that. And in marketing, you get 50% off almost if you have 10 sales licenses.

[00:24:05] Neil Benson: Right. Okay. So, it does become quite affordable, yeah. 

[00:24:08] Malin Martnes: Yeah. But again, 750 is a lot compared to a hundred. But then again, if you do all your email marketing and if you have your events as well. I used to work in event handling as an event coordinator. I have built I have custom-built and designed a event management system because there were none in the market. This is good enough. So, absolutely if you work with events, Dynamics Marketing is probably one of the best fits for you. No matter if you have one event a year at Scottish Summit, they run marketing. Or if you have 20,000 a year, it's still it's scalable to that size. 

[00:24:53] Neil Benson: So, the events functionality, what struck me as odd about it and this might have changed, I'm certainly not a Dynamics Marketing expert like you are, the event pages were not hosted on the same kind of technology stack as Power Pages. It was a separate set of stuff. They might have done that for speed or some other reason. But is that still the case that Power Pages and Dynamics Marketing pages have are slightly separate? 

[00:25:21] Malin Martnes: Marketing still runs on the old Power Apps portals.

[00:25:26] Neil Benson: Right. I didn't I thought it'd never ran on portals at all. 

[00:25:30] Malin Martnes: Oh, yeah. 

[00:25:30] Neil Benson: I thought it was a separate set of custom pages that they ran on. 

[00:25:34] Malin Martnes: No, you can do that but it's run on the old Power Apps portals functionality. So, all the new cool stuff that you can do in Power Pages, that's not there yet. I don't know when it's gonna be there but, I mean, it has to be there.

[00:25:50] Neil Benson: Yeah. In the fullness of time. 

[00:25:52] Malin Martnes: In the fullness of time or maybe if our dear friend Nick Dohmen just hits someone hard enough over the head and say, "It needs to be in marketing as well." Please, Nick.

[00:26:02] Neil Benson: If he hits them hard enough over the head, he's likely to knock them out. That's the problem. They won't get up again. Tell me about some of the types of projects you've done with Dynamics Marketing, some of the cool stuff or some of the things to avoid. I'd love to know more about deploying it and tips and tricks arts.

[00:26:22] Malin Martnes: I'm doing a couple of proof of concepts right now. It's so important to have the users part of it because in every other project implementing sales, you don't necessarily need to know how sales work super well because you understand it. Everyone has bought something or sold something or a lot of us has worked in sales. Like I was telesales and horrible. Horrible. Not for me. Too honest.

[00:26:53] Neil Benson: I struggled as well. 

[00:26:57] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah. So, that's you can do that. And that is configuring the system and making it work and customize it to the customer and sale. Same with customer service. It's all about getting the system set up on and configured and getting it to work so the customer can use it. Marketing on the other hand, I think it is easier to come from marketing and learn the technical aspects than it is to come from technical and learn the marketing aspects.

[00:27:29] Neil Benson: There's a lot of jargon in marketing that technologists are never gonna be familiar with. 

[00:27:33] Malin Martnes: Yeah. 

[00:27:34] Neil Benson: Add UTM parameters to their email. Like what?

[00:27:37] Malin Martnes: Okay. Thank you, Microsoft abbreviation. This is not Microsoft even. 

[00:27:41] Neil Benson: Yeah, that's right. 

[00:27:43] Malin Martnes: Yeah, so it's easier to come from marketing background to give advice. Like okay. Why do you need to send your emails at this specific time? Well, because that's when people open their emails and things like that. And why does this button need to do this and why is this important? So, all of these things are much easier if you come from a marketing background than if you're purely technical. 

[00:28:14] Neil Benson: Right. 

[00:28:15] Malin Martnes: It's no problem setting it up technically. That's no issue. But it's more filling it with data, getting the templates ready, doing the setup, doing all the domains, and then fixing DNS because it's always DNS. 

[00:28:31] Neil Benson: Yes, I've gotta go and fix mine today. I'm just moving to a new email marketing platform and my emails are coming through as so and so on behalf of such and such. I'm like, oh, that's a DNS. It's gotta be DNA. 

[00:28:42] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah. I had the same on my own webpage. I was like it doesn't work. Why doesn't it? Oh, DNS.

[00:28:50] Neil Benson: Set up my SPF records.

[00:28:51] Malin Martnes: Yes. So, all of that. And just knowing what an SPF record is, what is it and why is that important — technically, it's not that big an issue and it's not technically much you do in marketing. But understanding what it is and what it has to say for your deliverability and emails and why it's important for your customers to set it up correctly. It's important so I love implementing it. I love doing proof of concepts and training and I do a lot of training on it as well. So, it's always good fun.

[00:29:25] Neil Benson: Now, talking about deliverability, I wonder how Dynamics Marketing handles this. But I had a challenge recently. So, I'm moving from an email marketing system called ConvertKit and what I noticed is if I sent out an email, a lot of my subscribers in my email list, ConvertKit would report a large percentage of them had clicked on every single link in my email. That doesn't sound right. Hundred percent click rate? What's happening? So, it turns out that obviously a lot of the people on my list are they use Microsoft as their mailbox provider or their government or their education. And what happens is when I send an email to somebody who's running on Exchange, Exchange — I think it's the Microsoft Defender service — scans all the links in all the inbound emails to check the reputation of the website on the other side and that action ConvertKit counts as a click. And so, the user hasn't even opened the email but their mail service has scanned all the links in that email to check they're all okay. And ActiveCampaign, same thing. Six clicks out of six links. Did some evaluations of some other email providers and found that they did and they only counted human clicks. It's things like that. There's always something going on with email. Things keep changing as well, you know, changes to Apple iOS and how that affected deliverability and tracking. It just doesn't stay still. 

[00:30:46] Malin Martnes: No, not at all. And like Guro did a test email the other day and it took two and a half hours to deliver to Gmail. 

[00:30:54] Neil Benson: Wow. 

[00:30:55] Malin Martnes: So, it was deliverability. I actually had a call with — so Microsoft has their own email deliverability team for marketing and they're based in Europe so good time zone. I had a call with them on Monday morning with a customer who had like so super in-depth questions that was way beyond me. I'm like I have absolutely no idea. 

[00:31:21] Neil Benson: You're the one who wrote the book.

[00:31:23] Malin Martnes: I know. And still it was like I, yeah, I don't know. Let's just contact them. And they're really good at answering questions and he was super knowledgeable and could answer all their questions and even he was like this is a really fun call. I don't think I've ever gotten this deep questions from like a customer in a proof of concept stage. And can you check your own deliverability and can you check your score and where can you go to do this and how is the bounce? How many times can we adjust the bounce rate and.

[00:31:58] Neil Benson: Yeah. I've got really into it recently like talking about warming up IP addresses, especially when I'm moving to a new mail provider, my reputation's all gonna change so I have to start slowly. And the big mailbox providers, the Googles and Microsofts of the world have to learn that my domain is now sending from over here and I just gotta start slowly get some good reputation going 'cause if you move suddenly all at once, you'll have big deliverability issues because you're not as trusted as you used to be.

[00:32:27] Malin Martnes: Yeah. That is the good thing about Microsoft using the shared IP pools. You come to a secure IP address and you don't have to do all the warmups and everything 'cause I've heard talks about to do proper warmup, you need to send about four million emails.

[00:32:44] Neil Benson: Oh, I'm not sending up any effort.

[00:32:46] Malin Martnes: No, it's probably just if you have your own IP and you want to have control over that and to make any use of and keeping it warm and doing all of that stuff, then about 400 emails you need to send to like.

[00:33:04] Neil Benson: Okay, so I don't need my own IP address. That's good. Another great feature that I'd love to have, which I don't quite have with my new MailerLite application, is — I'm pretty sure Dynamics has it where you can instead of scheduling my email to be sent at, you know, 6:00 a.m. Australia time, I can just say send it at the best time for all of my subscribers and Dynamics Marketing will know that Malin is in Norway and seems to open email at 3:00 a.m. Australia time because that's better for her in her time zone. And so, it kinda smart-sends all the emails in my broadcast based on the preferences and the behavior of my recipients, which is also I think that's great.

[00:33:48] Malin Martnes: Yes. So, outbound marketing has that. So now, there are two different times things to do marketing in. So, outbound marketing and real-time marketing and real-time marketing is going to be the way moving forward. But in fullness of time, everything from outbound, will come over to real-time. So, right now you can do it in outbound the smart scheduling, where you actually get like a calendar view, where you see what time of day and what day you open your emails and what time you are quicker to open your emails.

[00:34:27] Neil Benson: Right. That's on a per-subscriber basis, not just for your whole list or something? 

[00:34:31] Malin Martnes: Yeah. 

[00:34:31] Neil Benson: Yeah. Wow. That's good. 

[00:34:32] Malin Martnes: So, that's personal. So, you can actually go into — I mean, GDPR aside and all that if you've asked and gotten consent and have all of that in order, which everyone of course does.

[00:34:42] Neil Benson: Of course, especially in Australia.

[00:34:45] Malin Martnes: Everywhere. Everywhere. So, you can go in and you can see the calendar where you actually want to open your emails.

[00:34:54] Neil Benson: That's really cool. I obviously get a fair few emails myself and I can tell that very few email senders are using that kind of feature 'cause I wake up in the morning, I check my email at, you know, six o'clock in the morning and my I've got a dozen kind of marketing messages there and I've opted in. They're all, you know, mostly subscription things I've subscribed to. But they are delivering their email at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time, which is perfect for them and a lot of their US readers, but it sucks 'cause and I'm Australia and I get a lot of messages in the middle of the night.

[00:35:27] Malin Martnes: Yeah. And if you forget to put on the Do Not Disturb, then you get notifications and yeah. Horrible. 

[00:35:35] Neil Benson: So, what are the other major tips that people should be aware of when they're deploying Dynamics 365 Marketing? Involving the users and particularly the marketing users and getting their expertise involved in the project?

[00:35:47] Malin Martnes: Yeah, it takes time. Don't be afraid to put in a lot of time before you start actually using it. Creating the templates and creating all the content blocks — that will save you so much time. I'm a big advocate for templates no matter where it is. I love templates and I always highlight like use templates. For the love of everything, use templates, please. For all customers and all marketers, if you do a newsletter once a week, why should you get that image and create that top banner and then put on the footer and then do everything? You have a template and you click on the template and the template is there and then you write the text and you're done. That's it.

[00:36:35] Neil Benson: Are most customers having like an HTML designer and a developer create the templates or are they using the drag and drop components to build templates? Which do you recommend or which do you see most popular? 

[00:36:49] Malin Martnes: The drag and drop functionality just because of HTML is code. And even though some marketers like to do that and think, well, I can do everything with that suits me well, it's not the fastest. 

[00:37:08] Neil Benson: No, no. It takes a lot of, I mean, if you really want picture-perfect design, maybe you have to do that.

[00:37:13] Malin Martnes: And if you have like this super strange font that you want to do and you want to add your own CSS, then go ahead and do it. No issue. But think about the users and make sure that — 'cause there are some like parts that needs to be in the HTML template, so you can't just copy from another place and then paste everything directly and then yay. It works. It doesn't so you need to know what you're doing and be sure you know what you're doing. And I don't touch the HTML at all. I stay far away from it. I mean, people want stuff that works that I don't do HTML. But again, drag and drop works very well.

[00:37:57] Neil Benson: Yeah, that's good advice. What do you think's coming next? What would you like to see Microsoft bring to Dynamics 365 Marketing? You talked about some of the transition from the outbound email feature or engine into real-time marketing. Sounds like there's a little way to go there. What else would you love Microsoft to bring to the product?

[00:38:15] Malin Martnes: Right now, I just really, really want outbound away and gone so that we have one place to do marketing and not have to worry about so, oh, is this an outbound email? Then I can't use it in real time. No, wait. I created this customer journey here because I needed — wait. No, no. That's a segment in real time. I can't use that. It just confuses everyone. And it's just so messy. And trying to explain, well, that really, really specific thing isn't in real time so you need to go to outbound. Okay. But the templates — no, no, no, no, no. Separate things. Sorry.

[00:38:59] Neil Benson: So, the second edition of your book is going to have no outbound marketing chapter in it. That's the dream.

[00:39:06] Malin Martnes: I can just delete. 

[00:39:08] Neil Benson: Yeah, delete. Rip the pages out of the first edition that you have.

[00:39:12] Malin Martnes: Hopefully. But I mean, they're always coming with new stuff like the frequency capping. Yeah. I've been involved in that since they started developing it and it's so needed for so many customers because — and I have customers both on ClickDimensions and on Marketing so I dabble in both of them and data quality is a pet peeve of mine. Yeah, there is so much horrible data quality out there. It just seems like everyone doesn't care and just say, yeah, well, let's fix it next time or next year or yeah, we're gonna import it to the new system and then we're gonna fix it in the new system. No, you won't.

[00:40:04] Neil Benson: I'm going through data migration. We're just about to kick off the data migration with a couple of customers. They're not doing marketing but just, you know, more traditional customer service stuff. Moving from a legacy system into Dynamics and oh, we're gonna — Dynamics has got a — feature, right? We'll just we'll import it into Dynamics and then clean it up. Like we won't let you. Let's address it in migration.

[00:40:23] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah. So much better. So, I wish all customers could just clean up before you move. That given should always be done before you move but then also go through the data and have some rules. And if you know you have a lot of bad data, then you have companies such as Data8 in the UK that has good tools to help you with all of that and I still need to get paid by them because I plug them all the time.

[00:40:57] Neil Benson: Yeah, they're good folks. Mark Carrington and Matt Beard, a couple of our Microsoft MVP friends there were just evaluating some of their capability at the moment, some of the features that we've introduced, to try and improve data quality on contact phone numbers and email addresses and addresses in particular. It's just to have a validation field. So, as a user, if somebody calls in, I can say, hi, Malin. Can I just confirm you're still living here? This is your email address and this is your phone number. And I can go tick, tick, tick and the date is captured so that I know that somebody has validated those pieces of information with the customer pretty recently. And then, if it's more than six months, the next time the customer calls in, the user is prompted to revalidate the customer's contact information again or if we bounce an email address or we get a letter returned or a phone number's dead, then again there's a visual indicator on the contact record. You know, I don't know why some of these things aren't standard in Dynamics. We can always ask ourselves that but you know, these are some of the patterns and practices you bring after a long time working with crappy data.

[00:41:56] Malin Martnes: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. And the duplication tool that they have as well. That's the way duplication should be built from Microsoft. That's the way it was meant to be.

[00:42:09] Neil Benson: Yeah. Actually, there's one more session I'd like to pitch at the Power Platform conference and that's: what should we do about Elon Musk? Elon Musk is the CEO of Tesla, the CEO of SpaceX, the chairman of the Musk Foundation. He owns Starlink and SolarCity. And so, he's got like lots of different Elon Musks. And in Dynamics, a contact like Elon can only be linked with a parent company of one account. But that would imply that Elon has got one job title, one phone number, one email address. And I bet you he doesn't. I don't know Elon Musk. I don't have all his business cards. But I bet you he doesn't. And so, in Dynamics, what we'd be tempted to do is have five different accounts and then five different Elon Musks and we wouldn't know there's one Elon Musk. And so, we see that all the time in our deployments is a person who works at multiple jobs, maybe a director of a few different businesses or is on the board of a not-for-profit organization or even — I worked with a customer who looked after contract cleaners so these are part-time cleaners who clean for different companies and there's multiple records. Dynamics doesn't handle that really well. We always have to start customizing the data model to look after these people.

[00:43:24] Malin Martnes: Or the closer thing you could come is using Connections. 

[00:43:27] Neil Benson: Yeah, you can try Connections. Yep. 

[00:43:30] Malin Martnes: Yeah, I get your drift. It's —

[00:43:32] Neil Benson: I've got four or five different ways of trying to solve for Elon Musk and Connections is one. And there's a few other patterns as well. Hopefully, I can put in a submission for that session.

[00:43:42] Malin Martnes: Yeah, that would be good. I'll be there hopefully. We'll see.

[00:43:46] Neil Benson: Yeah. Well, I'd love to make it an interactive session 'cause I'm sure you've solved it different ways for different customers in the past. I think we all have had a crack at it.

[00:43:52] Malin Martnes: Oh yeah. And I mean, it's some of these problems we've had, well, since I came into the consulting world nine years ago. So, yeah. It's still the same challenges and still fun though.

[00:44:08] Neil Benson: So, Malin, what's next for you? What are you gonna be doing over the next couple of months? You've got Nordic Summit coming up in September, so I guess you'd be busy planning for that. Anymore marketing workshops? Anymore books on the horizon?

[00:44:19] Malin Martnes: No more books. I'm done. As you know, it takes a lot of time and a lot of work so well never say never but when I was done, I said never ever again. Never. I'm super done. I haven't been asked to do anything else so I'm well I probably will say no anyway if someone asked. But Guro and I are also working on finding another day for the Marketing Day or half day.

[00:44:48] Neil Benson: And is that gonna be in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane? Let us know.

[00:44:53] Malin Martnes: Yeah, we should join forces and do a day, a marketing day down under. It would be good. 

[00:45:00] Neil Benson: Yeah. We will fly you down then you can go on a road trip. It'll be like Thelma and Louise running around Australia in a convertible.

[00:45:07] Malin Martnes: Sounds perfect. Yeah and we're working to see if we can have the Oslo Power Platform and beyond event set up. Never enough to do. And I'm also gonna join some other events and we have some in Norway that are scheduled that I'm not organizing yet because it's a paid event and I don't do that. I just do free stuff.

[00:45:36] Neil Benson: I noticed Nordic Summit's planning to have a little that's not a paid event but it's gonna be a cover charge, I would say. I think that's a great idea. I think I notice, talking to the organizers buying Scottish Summit and South Coast Summit in the UK, the number of people who register for free in-person events who maybe live thousands of kilometers away, they know they probably can't attend in person but there's a catering cost and a capacity cost for that registration and the organizers have gotta bear it. It's heartbreaking whenever you get a 50% turnout rate.

[00:46:08] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah. And that's the part of it all. We don't wanna waste all that money on catering. We could use that for other things and other people who are on the waiting list could have gotten their tickets and all of that. So, it's not gonna be a big cost but it's just so the people tend to even though like if you have $5 or $10 or $2, then it's more the okay so I'm now gonna go to this event. I'm not gonna register just to get the information because this actually cost money and I'm not gonna do that. That's why we discussed it a lot in the organizing committee and what are we gonna do? How can we make people show up? Because we send notifications. Oh, remember to cancel your tickets. It's tomorrow. Cancel your tickets, please. Please. 'Cause we had people on the waiting list and I know for Tallinn as well, there were 75 people on the waiting list.

[00:47:11] Neil Benson: Yeah, I bet you had a few empty chairs in the audience, too.

[00:47:13] Malin Martnes: Yeah, yeah. And there's a couple of the lanyards not picked up and everything. It all worked out very well. Like she had she I think she would like write on the dot for like hearing and everything so she had it all under control. But for the normal mortals of us, she's in the organizing committee for Nordic Summit as well so it's good. But we don't wanna throw away money or we don't wanna throw away food so it's the environmental aspect of it as well. If we order food for 300 people and 200 show up, then we're gonna have a lot of food that needs throwing away, you know? We don't wanna do that. 

[00:47:53] Neil Benson: So, I had some interesting feedback. I was considering putting on an Australian Power Platform conference and was chatting with some of the folks in my local user group about, you know, what day of the week and whether or not we should charge for it or make it a free event. And the feedback I got from the customers who were there was don't make it a free event. Don't make it a Saturday event because as a, you know, system administrator or an internal developer, my employer will pay for me to go to an event and I'm more likely to want to go if it's during the week and I'd rather get in-depth hands-on workshops. So, maybe for a two-day event, it'd be four half-day workshops. And my employer would pay a couple hundred dollars per day or whatever for that. And if you make it a weekend event, I've gotta give up my weekend. My employer, well, certainly won't pay me for that time away from home. They're less likely to pay for travel. And you're probably going to have lots of very short sessions from community speakers who you can't afford to pay. And so, I'm gonna get eight topics at a very high level and that's not really what I want. I wanna go deep. So, that was interesting feedback.

[00:49:06] Malin Martnes: Yeah, it is. And it was so good because the Tallinn event was on Friday as well. It was — Guro and I talked about it on our way 'cause we were on the same flight home. We spent a long time at the airport together before going home as well. And we said that it's been really, really good having a Friday event instead of a Saturday because almost all the events have been Saturdays. The Friday events, as you say, customers will take a day off to go to an event for a Friday. They won't come on Saturday because believe it or not for some people, this is work and not life, which I know sounds completely bonkers but it is. So, they actually want to have their weekends free and not do like work stuff because for us, it's a hobby and a life.

[00:49:58] Neil Benson: Yeah, that's right. I'm an independent consultant. Dynamics on the weekend? Sign me up. 

[00:50:03] Malin Martnes: Yeah, awesome. But we also love the fact as a speaker. So, I went down there after work on Thursday. There was flights and you had the event on Friday and then you had the choice of either going home on — well, you could have gone home on Friday. But a lot of people went home on Saturday morning and then still had the full weekend with their family. So, had Saturday and Sunday with their family.

[00:50:35] Neil Benson: Enjoy a Friday evening in Tallinn, which is, you know, beautiful city to explore and experience, yeah. 

[00:50:40] Malin Martnes: Brilliant, yeah. And then for others like we did, we left late Sunday and then we had all of Saturday and then we had a lot of time on Sunday as well. And we did an escape room.

[00:50:54] Neil Benson: Oh, cool. Yeah. 

[00:50:55] Malin Martnes: That was the best thing ever so that's now our new thing at any event, just trying to find an escape room because it was brilliant. It was Mark Christie, me, Guro, Sarah, and Anna. Yes. Brilliant. 

[00:51:11] Neil Benson: It's also pretty risky 'cause you can fall out with people who turn out to be idiots at getting out of an escape room. Don't press that button. No, leave that box alone. That's never gonna work. Oh, Mark. You've opened the door. Oh, I didn't think you could do that. Well done.

[00:51:27] Malin Martnes: Yep. Pretty much. But most people in this community, they're smart people so they managed to open a door or two. 

[00:51:37] Neil Benson: Great. 

[00:51:38] Malin Martnes: Yeah, it was funny.

[00:51:39] Neil Benson: Very cool.

[00:51:39] Malin Martnes: Yes. 

[00:51:40] Neil Benson: Good stuff. Malin, it's been fascinating chatting to you. I really appreciate you staying on so late. It's — I'm trying to think what time it is. You're way up past my bedtime anyway. Thanks so much for joining us on Amazing Applications. We'll make sure there's links to your LinkedIn profile and your Twitter account and everything and you and your book, of course, in our show notes so people can grab those. It's episode 138 of Amazing Applications. You'll find show notes at AmazingApps.Show/138. Malin, thanks so much for joining us.

[00:52:07] Malin Martnes: Thank you for having me.